Is The Fit But Fat Paradox True?

In Education

Scientists in a recent study tried to find out if fitness can counter fatness. Before we dive into their findings, we need to know what these terms refer to.

Definition of terms

Fitness can be defined as measuring the performance of the lungs, heart, and muscles of the body. It is also known as cardio-respiratory fitness or cardiovascular fitness. Due to the connection between body and mind, fitness also includes emotional stability and mental alertness.

The optimal measure of CRF is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can take during exercise. However, self-reported physical activity is often used instead because it is easier and more economical to assess.

Fatness, on the other hand, can be defined in many ways. Body Mass Index is the most commonly used way. It is a calculation of your size that entails your height and weight. However, more intense measurements like waist to hip ratio, body fat percentage, waist circumference, and waist to height ratio give us more details about a person’s health than BMI. Again, due to its easy and inexpensive nature, this is the most commonly used measurement in studies.

Back to the study

The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. With this study, researchers aimed at assessing the fit but fat paradox. The paradox implies that overweight individuals who engage in exercise can get healthy and reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases without a significant weight loss.

Using a cross-sectional study involving data from over 500,000 participants, the researchers examined the association between BMI categories, physical activity, and exposure to 3 cardiovascular diseases: hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. The data came from all the participants at one point in time with no follow-up period.

Results of the study

The results revealed that regular exercise was effective against the three cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, the relationship between two of them (hypertension and diabetes) and exercise is dose-based which means that more exercise is more protection against them.

However, neither insufficient nor regular physical activity compensated for being overweight. Simply put, obese individuals were at high risk of cardiovascular diseases regardless of whether they partake in physical activity. 

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